“I want to know about Malaysia!”

“Because the school library is a central part of the school, cutting across classroom and grade-level boundaries, teacher-librarians are in ideal positions for effecting attitudinal change throughout the school. As a result, it is the teacher-librarian’s duty to create a culturally tolerant and accepting library collection and library environment to promote the acceptance of individual differences throughout the student body.”

As a school librarian and Media Specialist combined, I am always looking to improve the collection, the experiences, and the outreach of the service we provide.  Upon reading “Building a Multicultural School Library: Issues and Challenges.” by Denise Agosta, I questioned the question that has come up several times at our school.  Working in the American School in Mexico City, many automatically think diversity is a given.  This is true but to a short point, there is a wide selection of diversity in the individuals that come to ASF (American School Foundation), yet what do we do with that information other than acknowledge it?   Sure, we do represent a wide diverse ethnicity of backgrounds in the aspect that we have an amazing Debate Team that travels the world, the experience of MUN at our doorstep, an International Magazine that reaches to pull young artists in from all over, an IB program that represents world wide research and education, and student from countless geographical areas, and yet, wait.  We have these opportunities, yet, do we delve into them ourselves to truly realize and learn what we have, in the many individuals from other countries, or do we go through the motions?

I am as guilty as anyone, I often take for granted the knowledge from other countries we have until I delve into a casual conversation that often brings this out – so what can we do as Media Specialists, and Librarians to delve into this wealth of culture around us.  One – definitely start to take notice of what can be brought into the library that interestingly represents various influences from around the world, and tap into the students’ from other areas to find out what is missing that was a great representation of their culture.  Second – events and activities that are accentuated from the library, to bring this element of internationalism to everyone within the school – sometimes it is difficult.  We recently had a Chinese dragon dance for the Chinese New Year in Mexico City, it was AMAZING and yet, such a hard battle with the negotiations, payments, scheduling, yet was it worth it?  Absolutely.

Sitting among 9 students in New York at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have students from Argentina, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Malaysia, and even more lands visited, and realized as Media Specialists and School Librarians, we need to tap into those possibilities and rely on those students to bring new and exciting information to those around us, making us all a little bit more culturally aware of the world opening up to us, beyond just the internet.  Ultimately, as I think on it, the comment was made, “I want to know about your life!” made by another student, and yet, as the student that contained this wealth of knowledge life and stated, “That is a little broad!”, we need to try and facilitate this conversation and knowledge in order to truly allow each of us to become more international in that information we have in each of us as individuals.